Welcome to the 25th week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This past week saw Ethan Edwards and Luke Hughes prepare for the Frozen Four as Michigan chases a national championship. It also saw Jakub Malek play for the title in the Czech 2nd division. Over in Sweden, Nikola Pasic helped Sodertalje avoid relegation in the playout series. Perhaps most notably, Tyce Thompson is back from an injury that sidelined him for most of the season and is playing well for the Utica Comets. Let’s check in on each prospect now.
Chase Stillman had a PP goal, an assist, even rating, 9 PIM, and 10 shots across 4 games last week. Check out his assist and goal below:
Ethan Edwards, Luke Hughes, and Michigan will take on Denver in the first Frozen Four game on Thursday. It can be seen at 5 PM ET on ESPN2. Minnesota will take on Minnesota State at 8:30 PM ET on ESPNU in the the second Frozen Four game. The NCAA Championship game will be on Saturday at 8 PM ET on ESPN2.
College Hockey News named Luke Hughes their Rookie of the Year. The article features quotes from Michigan coach Mel Pearson:
“Luke is a great offensive player. But he’s become more responsible with making better decisions, because when he gets the puck, he’s so confident he thinks he can go end-to-end, seeing some of the things he can do on the offensive blue line and offensive zone,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “And he’s had to learn at times, manage the game. What’s the situation? What’s the score? Where are we at? Do we need offense? Can I just lay the puck in and live to see another day? And I think that’s been one of the areas he’s really grown is just his management of the game.
“A lot of people didn’t think he could defend, his defense wasn’t this or that. But he’s become much, much better in his defending, become much more physical. He’s the third youngest player in college hockey this year. And as he grows and gets matured he’s going to even get better.”
KHL & VHL
Yegor Zaitsev Playoff Stats: 11 GP 0-2-2, -4, 8 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.2 SH/GP, 17:57 ATOI
Daniil Misyul Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.0 SH/GP, 13:36 ATOI
#5 Avangard lost their Eastern Conference Semifinal series 4-3 to #1 Metallurg Mg. Arseni Gritsyuk was a -2 with 3 shots in 19:07 of a 4-0 Game 7 loss last Wednesday. Gritsyuk led U22 players in the KHL playoffs with 6 goals, 4 assists, and 10 points. In terms of an individual postseason, his 10 points ranks tied-6th all time among U22 players (minimum 10 GP) in the KHL playoffs. His 0.77 points per game rate ranks 2nd all time among U22 players (minimum 10 GP) in the KHL playoffs. His contract with Avangard runs through the 2022-23 season.
Playoff Stats: 13 GP 6-4-10, -5, 4 PIM, 12.2 SH%, 3.8 SH/GP, 17:12 ATOI
Shakir Mukhamadullin Playoff Stats: 11 GP 0-0-0, -3, 4 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.4 SH/GP, 15:23 ATOI
#1 SKA is tied 1-1 with #3 CSKA in the Western Conference Finals. Zakhar Bardakov was a -2 with 4 PIM, 5 shots, 61.54 FO%, and averaged 10:25 across the opening 2 games of the series.
Playoff Stats: 11 GP 0-0-0, -5, 8 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.9 SH/GP, 47.4 FO%, 11:10 ATOI
Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja
#3 Ilves currently leads #6 Karpat 3-2 in their Quarterfinals series. Eetu Pakkila was a -1 with a shot in 17:26 in a Game 3 loss last Wednesday. He missed the next 2 games. Game 6 is today and a possible Game 7 is tomorrow.
Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.67 SH/GP, 15:05 ATOI
Topias Vilen Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.66 SH/GP, 13:51 ATOI
Samu Salminen Playoff Stats: 2 GP 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.5 SH/GP, 50.0 FO% 20:59 ATOI
SHL, Allsvenskan, & J20 Nationell
Nikola Pasic had an even rating in 19:27 as Sodertalje won their Playout series 4-2 over IF Troja-Ljungby. It
Playout Stats: 6 GP 0-4-4, E, 2 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 0.83 SH/GP, 14:53 ATOI* Stats corrected from typo last week.
Viktor Hurtig was a -1 with 4 shots across 2 games last week as Mora IK J20 lost their Quaterfinals series to Djurgardens IF J20.
Playoff Stats: 5 GP 0-2-2, -2, 0 PIM
The Rest of Europe
Swiss National League, Czech Extraliga, & Czech 1.liga
#7 Lausanne HC lost 4-1 to #2 HC Fribourg-GOtteron in the Quarterfinals. Benjamin Baumgartner didn’t play in Game 3, played 10:35 in Game 4, and just 1:56 in Game 5. Even though he didn’t hit the ice in 2 games this series, he still was credited with games played. Baumgartner is under contract with Lausanne HC through the 2024-25 season. The Devils hold his rights until June 1, 2022 so they’ll have to make a decision on whether to try to sign him soon. He turns 22 later this month so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Playoff Stats: 7 GP 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 0.14 SH/GP, 7:36 ATOI
Jaromir Pytlik and Rytiri Kladno are still awaiting their opponent for a relegation series in mid-April.
#2 VHK Vsetin is tied 1-1 with #4 Jihlava in the Finals. Jakub Malek made 30 saves on 33 shots in a Game 1 loss. He made 14 saves on 18 shots in 68:57 of a Game 2 victory.
Playoff Stats: 11 GP 7-3, 1.84 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO
The Utica Comets went 1-2 last week to move to 39-16-6-1. They continue to lead the Eastern Conference with 85 points. Their 23.5 PP% ranks 4th and their 81.7 PK% ranks 10th.
Wednesday 3/30: The Utica Comets lost 4-3 to the Rochester Americans. A.J. Greer had a hat trick for the Comets with a power play goal, shorthanded goal, and even strength goal. Ryan Schmelzer and Fabian Zetterlund assisted on the PP goal and Frederik Gauthier assisted on the short handed goal. Greer also had a game high 9 shots. Graeme Clarke followed with 5 shots and Zetterlund had 4 shots. Akira Schmid made 19 saves on 23 shots in the loss. Utica outshot Rochester 33-23 and went 1/3 on the PP and 1/3 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:
Here's how we line up in Rochester pic.twitter.com/Zmf6D5MJWj— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 30, 2022
Friday 4/1: The Utica Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch 5-3. Frederik Gauthier (SH), Ryan Schmelzer (PP), Chase De Leo, Aarne Talvitie (EN), and Tyce Thompson (EN) had the goals for the Comets. A.J. Greer had 3 assists followed by De Leo, Thompson, Joe Gambardella, Fabian Zetterlund, and Nikita Okhotiuk with one each. De Leo led the Comets with 3 shots. Akira Schmid made 32 saves on 35 shots to earn the win. Utica was outshot 35-15 and went 2/2 on the PP and 5/5 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:
✨ Tyce Thompson returns— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 1, 2022
✨ Brian Halonen makes his pro debut
✨ Akira Schmid has the net pic.twitter.com/t4n8jjtmXQ
Saturday 4/2: The Utica Comets lost 3-2 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Brian Halonen scored his first professional goal, on the PP in the 1st period with Tyce Thompson and Alexander Holtz earning the assists. Thompson had the other goal, also on the PP, with Robbie Russo and Brian Flynn picking up the assists. Reilly Walsh had a game high 8 shots followed by Holtz with 6 shots. Mareks Mitens made 23 saves on 26 shots. Utica outshot Lehigh Valley 39-26 and went 2/4 on the PP and 3/4 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:
- Nolan Foote continues to be sidelined with an injury. He has now missed 10 straight games.
- I was curious to see Graeme Clarke’s pre/post-injury split. He has played in 22 of 23 games since returning from an injury that saw him miss 17 games in January to early-February. During this stretch he has 5 goals and an assist for a 0.27 points per game rate. He has a 12.20 SH% and is averaging 1.86 shots per game. Prior to his injury, he played in 20 games with 5 goals and 10 assists for a 0.75 points per game rate. During this time he had a 12.20 SH% and averaged 2.05 shots per game. I’m encouraged to see that he is still converting at the same rate, though I would like to see him increase his shot rate up. I’m not too worried about the assists since his shot is what is going to get him to the NHL.
- Tyce Thompson was injured while playing for the New Jersey Devils back in November. He underwent shoulder surgery and just made his return to the ice for Utica last Friday. He picked up right where he left off for Utica with 2 goals (1 EN, 1 PP) and 2 assists (1 EN, 1 PP) over Utica’s games on Friday and Saturday.
- I focus more on the prospects when it comes to keeping track of Utica, but I should acknowledge the play of A.J. Greer. Since being sent down from New Jersey recently, Greer has 4 goals and 6 assists in 4 games for Utica. He has put up 15 shots during that stretch too. He is now a point per game player for the Comets with 22 goals and 28 assists through 50 games. By all accounts, he’s been a great veteran presence for this team.
- In terms of Goals Saved Above Average (minimum 15 GP), Schmid ranks 14th in GSAA (10.69), 15th in GSAA per 60 minutes (0.36), and 15th in GSAA per 30 shots faced (0.37) out of 61 goaltenders. Daws ranks 18th in GSAA (7.90), 13th in GSAA per 60 minutes (0.44), and 12th in GSAA per 30 shots faced (0.45).
- Alexander Holtz currently ranks tied-3rd in goals (22) and 6th in points (44) among all U21 players in the AHL. His 1.00 points per game rate ranks 3rd among U21 players (minimum 30 GP).
- Fabian Zetterlund ranks 5th in U23 scoring with 52 points. His 0.90 points per game rate ranks 12th among U23 players (minimum 30 GP).
Coming Up: Utica will take on Belleville tomorrow and Friday and then Laval on Saturday.
Adirondack won 1 out of their 4 games last week. They lost 4-2 to Trois-Rivieres last Wednesday, fell 7-0 to Maine last Friday, defeated Maine 4-3 (SO) the following night, and lost 4-0 to Maine last Sunday.
Adirondack will take on Reading tomorrow night and Worcester on Sunday. They have 6 games left in their season as they will not make the playoffs.
Which prospects stood out to you last week? Do you think Ethan Edwards and Luke Hughes can propel Michigan to a national championship? What are your expectations for Utica the rest of the way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!